IBM and eProvenance, a company specialising in monitoring and analysing wine shipment conditions, have released VinAssure. This is a new blockchain-powered platform based on IBM blockchain technology. It seeks to offer a smart, secure way to track wines as they move from vineyard through distribution to the consumer. VinAssure’s premise is that, by encouraging transparency, accountability and the rapid exchange of data, it can ensure the best winemakers are not undermined by supply chain errors, misinformation or improper conditions during transit.
“We believe wine communicates a strong sense of the place and the culture of those who contributed to its creation. We honor our winemakers and their goods by protecting wines through temperature-controlled transport and storage from the cellar to our customers,” said André Tamers, owner of De Maison Selections.
“The future of the wine industry lies in verifiable provenance, transparency and traceability. VinAssure makes it possible for our distribution partners and end consumers to see, understand and appreciate what went into crafting the wines they buy and what it takes for us to maintain the wine’s quality from the vineyard to the glass.”
The wine industry is complex and interconnected. Yet it lacks the mechanisms to optimise its supply chains. There are also numerous and disparate regulations that a global industry ecosystem has to have the capacity to address.
The first member of VinAssure is De Maison Selections. It is a US importer of ‘responsibly-sourced’ wines, cider and spirits from independent producers in Spain and France. As VinAssure membership grows, its supply chain – and consumers – will be able to access information which reaches:
- from the vineyard
- through transport and delivery
- to the point-of-sale (to the consumer).
The key is validated data stored on the blockchain. Using existing identifiers, such as a QR code on the bottle, consumers can learn, for example, about a wine’s:
- flavour profiles
- certification standards (for example for organic, biodynamic or sustainability practices).
Other wine industry members intending to join VinAssure include:
- Michelle Wine Estates, Export Division (the third-largest premium winery in the USA)
- Maison Sichel, a Bordeaux-based négociant and winemaker.
The portfolios of De Maison Selections, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Maison Sichel represent millions of bottles of wines. Each bottle, or case, has to move through a global supply chain if the wines are to available on the US and/or around the world.
“We craft ultra-premium wines from Washington, Oregon and California that fully reflect the unique growing conditions and individual winemaking practices of each estate. Our site-specific wines display unique and extraordinary character, so we want to assure those wines arrive in perfect condition whatever their destination around the globe,” said Peter Click, Vice President, International, Saint Michelle Wine Estates.
“VinAssure can help us share this compelling story with our supply chain and with our consumers.”
eProvenance and the eProvenance Score
eProvenance offers innovative services to monitor sensitive goods at the container, pallet and case level. Its solutions monitor shipment temperature, humidity, shock and geolocation to fit a wide range of needs and budgets. eProvenance has collected millions of data points for nearly 400 producers, 300 importers and 200 transporters in 65 countries.
The eProvenance proprietary algorithm determines if wine is still fresh or if quality may have been compromised – not just if (say) inappropriate temperatures have been encountered in the supply chain. The consequent eProvenance Score (from 0-100) indicates if there are changes to the wine quality. eProvenance temperature monitoring services and the eProvenance Score are an integral part of VinAssure. In effect, eProvenance provides critical data on the quality of wine shipments from origin to consumer.
“No one wants to open a bottle of wine and discover it’s been cooked. When the supply chain fails to maintain proper temperature conditions, that’s precisely what can happen,” said Robin Grumman-Vogt, CEO of eProvenance.
“VinAssure™ is designed to bring collaboration and clarity to an often-chaotic supply chain. The sensitivity of the product, the number of actors, the complex logistics challenges and a convoluted patchwork of regulations across the USA and from country to country, are all factors that play into the need for a wine industry ecosystem.”
The VinAssure platform
VinAssure hopes that it will provoke a new wine industry ecosystem, one which:
- provides consumers with more information
- assure consumers the wines they buy satisfy their expectations.
VinAssure runs on IBM Cloud. Built on IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, its design exploits blockchain, AI and cloud to optimise outcomes for all participants. Within a VinAssure ecosystem, wine producers, négociants, importers, transporters, distributors, restaurants and retailers will have access, via a permissioned, permanent and shared record of data, to a supply chain with improved:
To deliver on its promise, VinAssure uses IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, an innovative offering from IBM that enables organizations to rapidly build out their own sustainable blockchain-based ecosystem for improved supply chain operations, to promote transparency and collaboration and to create a permanent record of the history and lifecycle of physical and digital assets.
“Blockchain is the ideal solution for bringing transparency to a supply chain as complicated as that of the wine industry, which involves numerous participants and where needs vary depending on the destination of the shipment,” according to Raj Rao, General Manager IBM Blockchain Platforms.
“Having an immutable digital record of transactions and conditions simplifies process and represents the future of moving sensitive goods. It also provides the end consumer with greater information that the wine they purchased tastes as the winemaker intended and reflects the immense care that went into producing that wine.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
eProvenance says it has designed VinAssure to facilitate a new wine industry ecosystem (no small claim for an established and sophisticated industry already surrounded by rules and regulations). Its hope is that VinAssure will increase the efficiency, traceability and profitability of the wine industry – by making it possible to share product data across the supply chain in a secure manner.
As Enterprise Times has commented before, there are two separate ‘elements’ to these provenance blockchains. One relates to the supply chain, the other to the consumer. The logic for improving the supply chain using blockchain technology makes sense. Whether the consumer can be bothered to look up details is a whole different question.
This is where the eProvenance Score may have a role to play – if consumers will accept it. But for that to happen there needs to be more information available to understand what is being made available – as does far more on IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply – if either is to be credible.